International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Sentencing in ICC’s First Witness Tampering Trial Due Tomorrow

Tomorrow, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will deliver the sentences of five individuals convicted of tampering with defense witnesses who testified in the trial of Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba.

The five, who include Bemba, were convicted last October on various charges in the first trial under Article 70 of the court’s Rome Statute, which relates to offenses against the administration of justice. In the conviction decision, judges found that the five intentionally corruptly influenced 14 defense witnesses and presented their false testimonial evidence to the court.

Delivery of the decision on sentencing is scheduled for 11:00 local time in The Hague in open court. Judges ordered all the accused to be present in the courtroom. Bemba’s four associates have been on conditional … Continue Reading

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Combative Witness Raises Questions about Witness Preparation at the ICC

Earlier this month a prosecution witness testifying in the trial of Dominic Ongwen at the International Criminal Court (ICC) made headlines when he was cautioned by the judges for his behavior on the witness stand. As a member of the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), Witness P-003 intercepted radio communications between members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) during the conflict in northern Uganda, and he was called to The Hague testify about those communications.

However, upon cross-examination Ongwen’s lead defense lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo, in an effort to impugn the witness’s credibility, presented a letter in court that alleged the witness acted inappropriately during intercept operations and drew a gun on an intelligence officer working from the same compound. The … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Being Attacked by His Former LRA Battalion While in Pajule IDP Camp

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he was the victim of an LRA attack on a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) where he was living just months after escaping from the group.

Witness P-379 narrated to the court on Monday how he and other internally displaced people were attacked in October 2003 by the Oka battalion of the LRA, the same battalion he had been a member of and escaped from in August 2003.

The attack on Pajule the witness testified about forms part of the charges against Dominic Ongwen at the ICC. Ongwen has also been charged for his alleged role in attacks on three other IDP camps: Odek, Abok, and … Continue Reading

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Appeals Judges Maintain Restrictions on Ntaganda’s Communications

International Criminal Court (ICC) appeals judges have upheld a trial chamber’s decision to maintain restrictions that were imposed on Bosco Ntaganda’s communications in 2015 after the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) accused him of witness tampering.

The Appeals Chamber found that trial judges correctly balanced Ntaganda’s right to respect for his private and family life against the objectives of ensuring the safety of witnesses, preventing breaches of confidentiality, and ensuring the integrity of the trial proceedings.

They said a finding that there were reasonable grounds to believe Ntaganda personally engaged in witness interference was relevant to the imposition of these restrictions and for their continuation in order to reduce the risk of tampering to the proceedings.

On March 13, Ntaganda’s lawyers wrote to judges requesting … Continue Reading

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Les juges d’appel maintiennent les restrictions sur les communications de Ntaganda

Les juges d’appel de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) ont confirmé la décision de la Chambre de première instance de maintenir les restrictions imposées sur les communications de Bosco Ntaganda en 2015 après que le Bureau du Procureur (BdP) l’ait accusé de subordination de témoins.

La Chambre d’appel a décidé que les juges de première instance avaient correctement concilié le droit de M. Ntaganda au respect de sa vie privée et familiale avec les objectifs de garantie de la sécurité du témoin, de prévention des violations de la confidentialité et de garantie de l’intégrité des procédures du procès.

Ils ont indiqué que la conclusion selon laquelle il existait des motifs raisonnables de croire que M. Ntaganda était personnellement engagé dans la subordination de témoin … Continue Reading

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Witness Testifies About Attacks Ongwen Led

A former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighter told the International Criminal Court (ICC) about his abduction by the battalion led by Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the court. He also discussed attacks on a barrack and town center that were directed by Ongwen.

Witness P-379, who began testifying on Friday, is doing so under in-court protective measures. One measure taken is that his face is distorted in broadcasts to the public either on the screens in the public gallery or the court’s live stream of the proceedings. He is also being identified by pseudonym and any information that may identify him during his testimony is given in private session.

Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said that Witness P-379 has also been granted … Continue Reading

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Fears that Congressman Ovalle, Impeached in Relation to CREOMPAZ Case, May Have Fled

There are suspicions that a member of Guatemala’s Congress, whose immunity has just been lifted in relation to a case of enforced disappearances, may have fled the country. This Wednesday, March 15, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled to impeach Congressman Edgar Justino Ovalle. This came a day after Judge Benicia Contreras Calderon, charged with investigating the Attorney General’s charges against him, issued her opinion in favor of impeachment and a year after the Attorney General’s Office first filed its request with the Supreme Court.

With this decision, the Attorney General’s Office can formally initiate judicial proceedings against Ovalle in the CREOMPAZ case, which Attorney General Thelma Aldana has described as one of the largest cases of enforced disappearance in Latin … Continue Reading

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Doubts Casts on What Witness Knows About Ongwen or Attacks on IDP Camps

The lead lawyer for Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has doubted whether a prosecution witness served as an escort to Ongwen during his time in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Krispus Ayena Odongo expressed this and other doubts on Thursday about key parts of the testimony of Witness P-330. Odongo challenged the witness about attacks he said he took part in as a member of a LRA brigade that Ongwen was a commander in. Odongo also questioned whether Witness P-330 helped Ongwen when he was injured and took months to recuperate.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among the charges Ongwen is facing are dozens of them for … Continue Reading

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Edouard Kassaraté, a Prosecution Witness Working for the Defense

Thursday was the sixth and final day of testimony for General Edouard Tiapé Kassaraté, second senior officer of the Defense and Security Forces (FDS) in the Gbagbo and Blé Goudé trial. The defense closed their interrogation earlier than expected, which may indicate satisfaction with the witness’s answers.

Edouard Tiapé Kassaraté’s testimony at the International Criminal Court, which was to last until Friday evening, ended Thursday afternoon. The six-hour hearing that was scheduled lasted half as long. Laurent Gbagbo’s defense concluded their interrogation faster than expected. Charles Blé-Goudé’s defense said that it had no questions to ask the former commander of the Ivorian Gendarmerie and current ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire in Senegal, who worked with Gbagbo throughout his term as President of … Continue Reading

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Defense Lawyer Suggests Witness Was Part of a Gang of Thieves

A defense lawyer has suggested that a prosecution witness who once served as an escort to Dominic Ongwen was part of a gang that robbed people and their homes in part of northern Uganda.

Kripus Ayena Odongo asked Witness P-330 about the gang on Wednesday because the witness had previously testified that before he was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), he was captive of a gang of two men who robbed people in his village.

Witness P-330 has been testifying since last Friday in the trial of Ongwen at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ongwen is facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in attacks on four camps for internally displaced people and … Continue Reading

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